The (doubtful) epistemic value of empirical research in social psychology

In 2011, scientists have denounced fraud in the results of studies and publications by psychologist Diederik Stapel. Since that time in psychology are discussions whether data presented in empirical articles are reliable, externally valid, and whether they lead to a cumulative growth of knowledge. I systematically analyzed typical research practice. The analysis results are generally negative, ie. the research in social psychology is not exactly replicated, self-report variables are mostly used and in most cases research subjects are students from Western countries. Also, the analysis reveal many serious doubts as to whether there exists a cumulative increase in knowledge, the discrepancies between the data are not systematically explained. As a positive aspect of science I assessed the fact that realistic experimental manipulations were performed. Yet, I doubt that with current research practices we can achieve much more than a collection of weakly related (and not very certain) research findings. 

 

Łukasz Budzicz has PhD in psychology, and works as an adiunct in University of Zielona Gora. His research intrests encompass problems of epistemic value of empirical research in psychology, and possibilities for a cumulation of knowledge in this field. His other intrests are evolutionary approaches to explaining human behavior. He publishes scientific papers as well as popular articles.